Pianoland, Jersey City’s Newest Art and Music Venue, Hosts Thomas Francis Takes his Chances


When I arrived at Pianoland on Morgan Street around 9 pm for JC Friday’s after party, the first thing I thought was that it was going to be a total bust. I was pretty much the first guy there. But I Am The Heat loaded in. Jameson Edwards (lead vocals/guitar) and Michael Horaz (drums/vocals) have added a little bit of Jersey star power to their ranks, along with none other than Billy Gray (of the late great band Ben Franklin). We hung out for the duration of the night, waxing about musical influences and random pop culture.

Shortly after I arrived Andrew Kenny of Thomas Francis Takes His Chances (TFTHC) arrived with various band members shuffling along in the next few minutes. Then The Ashes loaded in. Everyone was present, so that’s a good sign. Then I turned around and the place was packed! What a relief. It was like that scene from The Last Crusade, minus the old knight… I had chosen wisely. This was the place to be.

At around 11, The Ashes started country rocking. Shane (guitar/vocals) Thomas (violin/vocals) and Al (guitar) have an excellent country sound reminiscent of Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard. It was a solid start to the night and great atmosphere music to ease everyone into the live music. Halfway through the set local celebrity Pat Byrne, often times the drummer for The Ashes, climbed over the drum set and added a little extra rhythm.

I Am The Heat had been preparing for their set by drinking Red Bulls. It was surely witching hour and I was pretty sure things were turning up a notch or two. Never the band to disappoint, they unleashed their patented dance rock hijinx. Jameson and Billy compliment each other on vocals and even though he didn’t have a mic, that didn’t stop Mike from cracking a few jokes in between songs.

What can be said about TFTHC that would be an accurate account of who they are as well as what they sound like? Well, if the inmates ran a prison and the prison had a circus, TFTHC would be the monkeys that took over the circus in the prison. If that statement defies logic, imagine what seeing them live is like. I barely escaped with my sanity and few were as lucky as I was. What can I say? Some of us are just made of sterner stuff.

After the show I cornered Andrew and cohort Rudy Stamp for a few words about Pianoland and what’s next on the plate for the band. With several new songs played and some new ones in the works as well as shows on the 10th and 23rd, TFTHC is moving into high gear in 2012. A few of the members live over at Pianoland, their hope is that this is the first of many new venues to come to Jersey City. Their feeling is that if New Brunswick can have a thriving music scene, then Jersey City can certainly muster up the stones to create one too.

Shortly into the interview the police came to let us know it was time to go home. I would have been upset but then I realized it was 3 am. Even Rocker Tycoons know when to end a party. With a very successful show for JC Friday I expect to see several more acts here.

This weekend at Pianoland (196 Morgan Street) there’s a second-hand pop-up store beginning at 12 today until Sunday at 6 pm. The shop will close around 9 or 10 pm Friday and Saturday. Expect to to find vintage clothing, records, furniture, collectables, instruments, analog hearts, bric-a-brac, electronics, bikes and art.

is a rogue rock writer. He is an avid blogger/indie music junkie and founder of Rocker Tycoon as well as an award-winning photographer, specializing in rock, fashion and weddings.